[Honey’s Anime Interview] Sayaka Sasaki, Singer of the OP for Bakuon!! and Anisong Royalty

In 2009, Sayaka Sasaki won the All-Japan Anison Grand Prix, which is a very important singing contest. From there her career took off and it has not stopped since then. Sayaka has been very busy composing and performing theme songs for various anime series, such as The Book of Bantorra, Nichijou, Garo: The Animation, So, I Can't Play H!, Bakuon!!, and many others.

She recently released her 4th studio album called “Fated Crown” on March 29th consisting of 13 tracks including an insert song from Girls und Panzer, Garo: Divine Flame ending theme, and BAKUON!! opening theme among others. To promote the album “Fated Crown”, an official lyric video of the homonymous track was released.

Honey-chan and Bee-kun were very excited to interview one of their favorite anisong singers. They asked her questions about her lyrics, fashion sense, favorite anime series and her upcoming plans.

About Her New Album “Fated Crown”

What can your fans expect from you with this new release? Can you describe us a little how this album became to be?

For Fated Crown, this album is the one that I personally have been the most deeply involved with creating. Of the 13 songs on this album, I have written the lyrics for 12 songs and composed two of them. As you can tell from what I said above, I think that I was able to clearly show intent on how I want to create music within the anisong industry. Specifically, because when I created the lead track, “Atlantico Blue”, off of my previous album, I realized that I had feelings I did not know I had, and I became able to see things in a different way.

This album is a reflection of jam packing all of that into myself to make a NEO Sayaka Sasaki. It’s not just “singing songs”, and I produced this album by deliberately keeping in mind what I learned in order to vividly reflect that. For my fans who have been so kind to support me up until now, please look forward to this new work which will show the extent to which I have grown.

What is the concept/idea behind the title of your new album: Fated Crown and what does it stand for?

For the concept of this album, since I laid bare Sayaka Sasaki once for my previous album Atlantico Blue, I went with the keyword of “rearmament”. This is in the sense of moving on to the next stage. When I debuted, I lacked confidence and I encouraged myself using my clothing as my “armament”, so to speak, for when I had to stand on stage. Until now, all of the arms that I have used were weapons to hide my weakness. I regret nothing, and through that I have fought in this harsh world for seven years.

But with Atlantico Blue I was able to cast aside those arms. I was able to do this because of the many people waiting for me around the world in various countries, and especially those on the other side of the world in Brazil! It was because of this, I was able to accept myself.

From there I went on to the next stage. “I realized that I wore the crown and led everyone to another world. Their destiny is that they were to be brought along to this other world”. I combined my strong determination and my fighting spirit to create the concept of a pre-ordained crown. Thus, I arrived at the album title, Fated Crown.

About the Lyrics

You’ve been a lyricist from the very start of your career, do you enjoy writing songs lyrics as much as singing?

I love writing lyrics. I especially enjoy writing lyrics for anime tie-up songs over original songs. The reason why I chose this profession was that I dreamed of being an anisong singer who would sing theme songs that could closely relate to the original work. Originally, I used to live by emphasizing two things: what possibilities words can express and the stories the words would tell. Thanks to the process of writing lyrics, I have learned that through a song, I am able to fully express feelings that I would not have been otherwise able to express. I also learned that I love spending time immersed within the world of the story. Recently I have occasionally been able to write lyrics for character songs and I rather enjoy it greatly.

Please tell us about the creative process for writing lyrics. Do you have a special way of doing it?

Instead of being all over the place, I am the type that if I do not start from the top of the song and production, then I cannot move forward. If it is a situation where the song is already there and I need to write lyrics for it, the first thing I do is list up a bunch of the keywords and phrases that strike me. Next while confirming the melody, I take those keywords and phrases and piece them together like a puzzle consistently adjusting them. If I am also involved in the composition of the track as well, I work on both the lyrics and song composition at the same time and then the melody and lyrics fall right into place together. The meaning is, of course, important, but I also bear in mind the sense of sound (the sound of the words) taking it into careful consideration.

We can see that lyrics are a very important part of your music, and you even made a VR music video with lyrics that fans can enjoy. Can you tell us more about this concept?

I don’t have that much confidence in myself when it comes to my skills as a singer, but I am able to support myself together with the weapon that I consider to be my ability to write song lyrics. When it comes to me, composing lyrics or my skills at a singer, neither are necessarily the best in the industry, but when these two are combined, I really feel that they are the reasons why I am here on Earth. When I think of it in that way, my lyricist skills are an important component of what makes me, me. Up until now, this is the first time that I have ever been asked to dive deep into myself for a question regarding my lyrics composition. It was a great honor to answer this question. Thank you very much.

About Fashion Sense and Album Image

You look almost bewitching on the cover of Fated Crown. The sexy impression that you give is very different from other anisong singers in the market. Can you tell us how you created this image and how it is connected to your music on this latest album?

For the visual this time, what I aimed for was something that I took right from the meaning of the title; I am trying to be someone who is slightly out of reach... In a good way! In order to have the qualifications to wear a crown, one needs charisma, an aura that makes people a little cautious to approach, as well as a fascinating charm. And, of course, the theme of “rearmament” as well. This time though, it is not in the sense that this is a stiff, full body of armor with no chinks, but rather because the wearer is strong enough they have the leeway to wear armor exposed at the shoulder.

Working together with stylists and designers, I made this the outfit this time. My idea too was that I have the leeway to simply hold the crown by my side instead of showing it off. Ever since I participated in providing the ending theme for Garo The Animation three years ago, I have had blonde hair. I believe that I can say that it is a special characteristic of myself. The album jacket is everything that myself, Sayaka Sasaki, is aiming for: a visualization of music that I want to present to everyone.

Does your fashion sense as an artist/performer differs from your personal sense of style in your everyday life? What kind of clothes do you wear in your private life?

With this bright blond hair, it is... a bit difficult to wear cute fashion. Rather, I tend to wear edgy, cool fashion. If I don’t pay attention, I end up wearing all black, so I do try to go out of my way to consciously incorporate some color each season when I go shopping. But I am always wearing either red or black. As for shoes, my favorite are a pair of thick sole Dr. Martens ankle boots, and I am always wearing them.

About Anime

We know you’re a huge otaku. Please tell us what brought you into anime, and what are your favorite anime and why.

Ever since I was a child I was always around Anime and SFX (Tokusatsu). I loved to memorize the theme songs and then copy them by singing. I always considered it something natural and until I became an adult as I never had really considered myself an otaku. Of all of the people who live in this world, we are all obsessed with various things. Some are obsessed with idols, some are obsessed with sports, and some are obsessed with movies. So naturally, there are going to be people who like anime and SFX (Tokusatsu). That’s all. I have too many works that I like to the point that it is impossible to narrow it down to one specific work. But if I had to choose one that guided me towards choosing this profession, then it would have to be Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Precure series.

If you could be an anime character, from any anime of all time, which one would you like to be and why.

If it is Futari wa Precure, then it has to be Cure Black. I want to be a cool fighter like she is!

If it is Slam Dunk, then it would be Kaede Rukawa. He was my first love. I am a female basketball player and I want to have his physical prowess and play in a match. When it is not about basketball, he is frank and a few sandwiches short of a full picnic, and it is adorably cute. He is the complete opposite of me and I am jealous.

About Performing Abroad

You have been performing abroad starting with the Beijing Super Summer Festival in Beijing 2012. Please tell us what event stands out the most in your memory and the story behind it. Also, what was enjoyable about it?

It is difficult to choose one... To be honest, everything related to overseas performances is impressive and moving. In Mexico, a sea fans sang along to my songs like a great chorus. In Brazil, an astounding number of people called out my name. In Qatar, I was bathed in cheering and shouts of joy from the crowd while I performed.

But what really surprised me was how far I was from Japan, and yet, the level of support was so great, it made me happy. It is not even about the events either, as no matter where I went, I was able to enjoy delicious food. This helped me to come to like every single region I went to even more. And so, I came to like the place that I first went to perform at as a singer. In my private life, one of my hobbies has become traveling to the places I have performed at.

If you compare the Japanese fans and fans abroad when you perform in front of them, do they differ? Or are they same? Please tell us in your own words, what about singing in front of fans overseas you like the most.

In Japan, the fans do not really say anything when you are singing. Rather, when there is an interlude or an interval pause in the lyrics, that is when they all cheer and chant. International fans though do not worry about that. Because they are so pumped, they cheer and whistle with their hands. In that moment, they demonstrate their passion for me. That brings me nothing but pure happiness. I try to go to other live performances from other Japanese artists around the world in order to learn more about them. For foreign fans though, even if they come to see a live show they are interested in, if it is not a song that they like, they will not get as pumped up, and for myself standing on the stage, this is something that I worry about. In those moments they may sit down and start playing a game or leave the concert floor. I really agonize over the set list that I choose for every country so that everyone will be able to enjoy the performance until the end.

About Upcoming Projects

Let us know more about your upcoming single which is the OP of ID-0. What did you have in mind when you composed the lyrics? What kind of messages did you put into it this time (lyrics/music/singing)?

With this song, as you may have already realized, the title of this song and the anime are the same, and I intentionally did so to cater to the anime. I went all out making this song as close as I could to the series. I made this song for the main character Ido who is beleaguered with conflict that connects to his future. The further that you follow the story in this series, the secrets wrapped into the lyrics of the full version of the song become undone one by one. So, the more you know the story, the more deeply you can be touched by my song.

The compositions of the TV size version and the full version of my song are pretty different. I would be very happy if you don’t just listen to the TV size version, but rather get the song when it is released and enjoy it. AstroNotes, the creative unit who handled composition and arrangement, are, for me, musical geniuses. The relationship we have together allows us to discuss anything about sound. The result generated from this is what I firmly believe you will be able to feel. When we were recording, I was struggling with vocal cord nodules and it was painful, but when it was recording day, I was somehow able to sing the song exactly how I envisioned it. The music video, the jacket, and the visual too are extremely wonderful, so please enjoy those parts of this project as well!

Your fans would like to know, what are your plans after releasing this new album?

Several big plans that I have before summer include, the album going on sale, the next single, “ID-0”, going on sale, and then I am going on a live tour. During those times too, I am preparing with all of my might, to go abroad to perform even if it is only for a little bit. Be sure to check out my homepage and my twitter for more and to watch over me. I want to put out a sequel to my special cover album SAYAKAVER. which is chocked full of popular anime and tokusatsu songs, that are also popular abroad. (I hope!)

Thank you so much for interviewing me. I have enjoyed writing it all!

Sayaka Sasaki

honeys anime character
I learned so much from this interview. Singers need to have a lot of courage to stand in front of a crowd of guys like me judging every move they make. I realized that Sayaka-chan armed herself to gain this confidence and give us her best every time she sings. She is really amazing.
honeys anime character
Indeed, we all think only talent and skills are enough to be a performer, but you need to build a strong and confident persona. I loved how she uses fashion as an armor. I think I need to update my wardrobe because I want to be stronger too.
honeys anime character
It fascinated me how involved she is in her music; not only her singing style is amazing, but also her songwriting and compositional skills are in tune with her character.
honeys anime character
Yep, Sayaka-chan, we crown you the queen bee of this hive!